Norman, Okla. - No. 4 Oklahoma capitalized on a pair of early mistakes by Nebraska and rolled to a 62-28 victory over the Huskers at Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Oklahoma improved to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the Big 12 by jumping out to a 35-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, the most points ever scored by a Husker opponent in the first 15 minutes. Nebraska slipped to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Roy Helu Jr. produced the biggest highlight for the Huskers by rushing for a career-high 157 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Despite the lopsided final score, Nebraska outscored the Sooners 28-27 over the final three quarters, and NU amassed 418 yards of total offense, despite managing just 32 yards and three turnovers in the opening period. Nebraska also won the time of possession battle, controlling the ball for 30:42.
Helu, a sophomore I-back, led a balanced Husker offensive attack that racked up 204 rushing yards and 214 passing yards against Oklahoma. Unfortunately, Nebraska was plagued by four turnovers on the night, including a pair of interceptions and a fumble in the first quarter. Joe Ganz completed 14-of-26 passes for 206 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
OU capitalized on all four of Nebraska's miscues to score 27 points, including 21 in the first quarter. Quarterback Sam Bradford led an explosive and efficient Oklahoma offense to 508 yards of total offense. Individually, Bradford completed 19-of-27 passes for 311 yards and five touchdowns.
He also threw one interception late in the third quarter, which was picked off by NU's Ricky Thenarse in the end zone. But NU was unable to capitalize on that Sooner mistake, turning the ball back over to OU on the Huskers' first play from scrimmage, which led to Oklahoma's final score.
The Sooners jumped to a 7-0 lead just 2:43 into the game by capping the game's opening drive with a two-yard touchdown run by Chris Brown. It was the eighth time in nine games that OU scored on its opening possession this season.
That was just the beginning of the Sooner onslaught. On the first play of Nebraska's opening possesion, OU's Dominique Brown intercepted a Ganz pass and sprinted 18 yards to paydirt to push Oklahoma's lead to 14-0 with 12:13 left in the first.
The Huskers were victimized by another turnover on their second possession. This time a fumble by tight end Dreu Young after a completed pass by Ganz. The Sooners capitalized quickly, as Bradford connected with Quentin Chaney on a 48-yard touchdown pass to put Oklahoma up 21-0 less than five minutes into the game. Chaney led a talented OU receiving corps with five catches for 128 yards and a touchdown on the night.
On the second play of NU's ensuing drive, Ganz was intercepted for the second time, this time by OU's Lendy Holmes, who returned it 26 yards to the Nebraska 9. The Sooners cashed in on the game's next play with Bradford's nine-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Greshman to give OU a 28-0 lead with 9:27 left in the opening quarter. Gresham finished the game with five catches for 52 yards and two scores.
Nebraska's defense regrouped and slowed down the Sooner barrage midway through the first quarter, but the Husker offense was unable to get untracked. Oklahoma capped the quarter with a 10-play, 97-yard drive that took 3:24 with Bradford's third touchdown pass of the opening quarter, as the Heisman Trophy contender connected with Brown on a one-yard pass to give the Sooners a 35-0 edge. It was Bradford's 30th touchdown pass of the season.
Oklahoma amassed 208 yards of total offense in the opening quarter, while forcing three Husker turnovers. Nebraska managed just 32 yards of total offense in the first stanza.
Despite a massive hill to climb on the road, the Huskers refused to quit. Ganz led Nebraska on its first successful drive of the night, as NU marched 80 yards on eight plays. The drive was highlighted by a 67-yard Ganz pass to senior wide receiver Nate Swift on 3rd-and-10 from the NU 30. The big play set up Quentin Castille's two-yard touchdown plunge to put the Huskers on the board with 11:20 left in the half.
Swift, NU's career reception leader finished the night with three catches for a team-high 83 yards and a score, while fellow senior Todd Peterson added five catches for 73 yards.
The Sooner offense continued to fire on all cylinders on its first drive of the second period, capping a 56-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray on 4th-and-1 to make it 42-7 with 8:06 left in the half. Murray finished with 57 yards rushing and two scores on the ground, while adding one touchdown catch for 25 yards.
The Huskers continued to battle with another impressive 80-yard drive that was capped by Helu's 14-yard touchdown dash with 4:24 left in the first half. Helu covered a big chunk of that yardage himself, catching two passes for 19 yards to open the drive, before adding a pair of rushes for 37 yards on the march.
While Nebraska's offense was showing life, the Husker special teams and defense continued to struggle against the high-powered Sooner offense. Murray returned Adi Kunalic's kickoff 57 yards to set the Sooners up for a drive start at the NU 43. Four plays later, Murray scored his second touchdown of the second quarter with an eight-yard run to push OU's lead back to 35 points at 49-14 with 2:56 left in the half. In the second quarter, OU had two kickoff returns for 97 yards, including a 40-yard return by Juaquin Iglesias to give the Sooners great field position on their first scoring drive of the quarter.
Oklahoma finished the first half with 305 yards of total offense, while adding 159 yards on three kickoff returns. Nebraska finished with 224 yards of total offense in the opening half.
The Huskers continued to move the ball in the second half, scoring their third touchdown of the game on an 83-yard drive to take over the total offense lead for the game despite trailing 49-21 on the scoreboard. NU notched its third score on an eight-yard pass from Ganz to Swift with 11:34 left in the third quarter.
But NU's total offense lead was short-lived, as Bradford led the Sooners on another scoring drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Greshman with 9:30 left in the third. The two defenses finally took control of the game, but OU found one more score, as Bradford threw his fifth touchdown pass of the night by connecting with Murray on a 25-yard reception and run to close OU's scoring at 62-21 with 0:44 left in the third quarter.
After Nebraska's Zach Potter blocked the Jimmy Stevens extra-point attempt following OU's final touchdown, the Huskers closed the scoring with Patrick Witt's first career touchdown run, a 16-yard score on a play-action run to narrow the final margin to 62-28 with 21 seconds left.
Larry Asante led the NU defense with 13 tackles, including eight solos, while Tyler Wortman added 11 tackles, including three tackles for loss.
Nebraska returns to home to Memorial Stadium for a key Big 12 Conference North Division battle with Kansas on Saturday, Nov. 8. The game time will be announced Sunday. Check back to Huskers.com on Sunday for updated game information.
Scoring (#4 Oklahoma 62, Nebraska 28)
Nov. 1, 2008
Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium (Norman, Okla.)
First Quarter (Oklahoma 35, Nebraska 0)
OU - Chris Brown 2 run (Jimmy Stevens kick), 12:17
OU - Dominique Brown 18 INT return (Stevens kick), 12:13
OU - Quentin Chaney 48 pass from Sam Bradford (Stevens kick), 10:31
OU - Jermaine Gresham 9 pass from Bradford (Stevens kick), 9:27
OU - Brown 1 pass from Bradford (Stevens kick), 0:04
Second Quarter (Oklahoma 49, Nebraska 14)
NU - Quentin Castille 2 run (Alex Henery kick), 11:20
OU - DeMarco Murray 3 run (Stevens kick), 8:06
NU - Roy Helu 14 run (Henery kick), 4:24
OU - Murray 8 run (Stevens kick), 2:56
Third Quarter (Oklahoma 62, Nebraska 21)
NU - Nate Swift 8 pass from Joe Ganz (Henery kick), 11:34
OU - Gresham 11 pass from Bradford (Stevens kick), 9:30
OU - Murray 25 pass from Bradford (Stevens kick blocked), 0:44
Fourth Quarter (Oklahoma 62, Nebraska 28)
NU - Patrick Witt 16 run (Henery kick), 0:21
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